App to help manufacturers back to businesses

Alistair Venn, chief operating officer of SafetyCulture, speaks with Manufacturers’ Monthly on how the Australian technology firm helping the manufacturing industry get safely back to business with a simple checklist and inspection app that anyone can use.

1) How does iAuditor work from a manufacturing perspective – is it applicable across all manufacturing applications or is it limited to specific industries?

We work with over 26k large and small organisations across 42 different industries. Manufacturing accounts for some of our largest customer cohorts, food and beverage, industrial machinery, chemicals, plastics, building materials, and even aerospace & defence.

The platform’s value is in its simplicity – forget complex modelling, step one in consistently producing high quality goods and a safe environment is a proactive workforce that helps you get ahead of issues.

From a manufacturing perspective, iAuditor is used for a whole range of activities but our top two manufacturing checklists relate to regular 5S checklists or risk assessments.

Our customers also use annual inspections, ethical supply chain inspections, QMS audits to empower workers on the factory floor to capture and log the details of incidents as they happen.

Our platform brings together data from inspections, incidents, and physical sensors hardware to give any type of manufacturer a full picture of what’s happening on the manufacturing floor.

2) For those industries that iAuditor is applicable to, could you explain more about how it guarantees safety and reliability? are there any examples to quote around this (case study specific examples)

Our top manufacturing industry is food and beverage – we’ve got over 5k iAuditor organisations in food & beverage manufacturing. Marley Spoon delivers over 25 million meals each year, and uses us to manage their two critical control points:

  1. The first is food and ingredient temperature on arrival, which is all securely logged in iAuditor inspections to help them mitigate risk, as well as manage their relationships with their suppliers.
  2. The second is their food storage temperature, which can’t go outside of range for more than two hours or they need to throw the inventory out. They use iAuditor sensors in all of their cool rooms, which automatically sends a temperature reading to iAuditor every 10 minutes. If conditions go outside of acceptable range, their head of quality and safety gets an automatic text message so she can instantly see what’s going wrong. Sensors saved over $100k worth of stock when it sent a manager a message at 11pm on a Saturday night – no one would have known that there was a compressor failure in the cool room until Monday morning if they didn’t have the technology. To your question, there are no guarantees, but using iAuditor has greatly improved their processes, and in turn their piece of mind.

3) How does iAuditor standardise operations? Could you provide an example of a manufacturing application with and without iAuditor?

We’re also big in industrial machinery manufacturing. These machines are built to last years and years, so quality is a huge concern. Without standardised procedures, it’s impossible to guarantee quality every time.

AF Gason Pty Ltd design and manufacture world-class broadacre farm machinery and woodheating products, they have been using iAuditor since 2017. Before using iAuditor, they relied on physical pen and paper GMP checklists. We were working with Craig Lennie, their Quality Assurance Manager, who was really concerned about the accuracy and completeness of the information they were collecting.

He kept finding that the information he needed wasn’t available, and there seemed to be quite a bit of guesswork. Stories about what happened when a quality issue was raised would change depending on who was asked.

By rolling out iAuditor, he was able to ask each worker the same question and compile all the data into a single system to visualise issues. When he replaced the paper processes with iAuditor, he could rely on data, including photos, captured by his workers on the factory floor – to track problem areas and address issues in real-time. And Craig will tell you himself, “All I have to do is check my iAuditor dashboard in the morning, and update my inventory report software. I have complete visibility – which helps me ensure the future is healthy,”Craig Lennie, Quality Assurance Manager, AF Gason.

4) Does apps to monitor safety and reliability improve workflow – make processes leaner?

It absolutely improves workflow. When manufacturers are using pen and paper, or rudimentary systems like Excel, there is double entry of data for sure. Using iAuditor stops that from happening because all of the data is automatically compiled, giving complete visibility across operations from wherever you are.

Information automatically goes to the right place – e.g. in our incidents capture feature, front line workers just need to log what type of incident it is, e.g. injury, machine failure or quality issue, and the information will automatically notify the people who’ve been set up to deal with that sort of issue.

You can also reduce wastage and downtime with proactive processes. In the case of Marley Spoon, they manage to keep their Australian waste ratio under one per cent with their just in time delivery processes. They rely heavily on iAuditor to make sure that everything is stored correctly to minimise waste. It allows them to run their process on a leaner basis.

5) What kind of costs can be involved without proper safety monitoring?

 Operating without proper safety monitoring has many costs but the top four would be people, compliance, reputation and efficiency.

The highest cost of poor safety monitoring is the impact it can have on the lives of your workers, your people. Regardless of what you’re manufacturing, most industries rely on heavy machinery. Without standardised safety protocols, proactive management, and clear visibility, you’re risking the safety of your staff who are operating it.

Quality isn’t just about pride, it’s also a matter of regulatory compliance. For example, every food manufacturer in ANZ has to comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, or they’ll face serious financial penalties.

There is also the risk of damage to your reputation.The rise of social media and its adoption as a legitimate source of peer to peer news and communication has resulted in companies being more exposed to public scrutiny than ever before. As a result, it’s critical for organisations to maintain a safe working environment, and ensure all of the products or services they deliver are high quality. Any breaches can have serious and long lasting implications to both the bottom line, and to public or industry perception of your product.

Finally, there’s an opportunity cost of not implementing good monitoring from an operational perspective. How much money are you spending for people to re-enter data, manually create reports, or complete manual checks that could be automated? How could they be using that time to get to better business outcomes?